CM: De Ketelaere fee to rise as he stays red hot – the background on Real Sociedad

By Oliver Fisher -

If Charles De Ketelaere had previously shown good signs in glimpses with Atalanta, we can now talk confidently about a player who is in excellent form. writes how De Ketelaere’s stunning goal against Genoa yesterday is proof of his talent as well as the confidence that he is playing with, which is needed in order to take on such an audacious shot from range.

De Ketelaere has had a phenomenal month: in the last four games with Atalanta the team have collected 12 points, while he has amassed four goals and two assists.

Gian Piero Gasperini was able to give the Belgian a role and a set of instructions that has got the best out of him, and now La Dea are almost certain to use their option to buy him permanently from Milan for €22m.

Meanwhile, the Rossoneri can smile because even the €4m in bonuses as part of the deal – linked to personal and team objectives such as qualification for the Champions League – can be ticked off easily, making a total of close to €30m.

The report adds an interesting bit of background: De Ketelaere could have ended up in LaLiga at Real Sociedad last summer as he was convinced that Spanish football could be better suited to his style of play.

Atalanta were very good at insisting even when the economic distances on the salary were slowing down the negotiations, and now with Gasperini’s work De Ketelaere has found that indispensable confidence to perform at his best, improving game after game.


Tags AC Milan Charles De Ketelaere


  1. Management was so eager to erase everything Maldini related that they didn’t insert a buy back option or at least a considerably higher percentage from a future sale. We are gonna regret this one for years to come.

    1. What does it matter? CDK is not suited for our system. He thrives in Atalanta’s 2-striler system and tactical plan. IT IS DIFFERENT THAN OURS. How many times does this need to be said? Do we need to change coach and personnel to accommodate one player? Should we get rid of Leao so CDK can play as a second striker? I’m happy for CDK, but he wasn’t meant for this Milan.

      1. and you forgot to add:

        because of Pioli. We needed a forward last year (he can play a false 9) and yet we never even tried him. Yes, CDK is better in a 2 forward lineup, but we didn’t even try him at FW.

        Instead Pioli INSISTED on ONLY playing him out of position as an AM. Wouldn’t even test him at FW or RW.

        – CDK himself said he was used in the wrong position.

        – Gasperini said Milan used him in the wrong position.

        – His national team also uses him as a FW and said he was being used in the wrong position.

        What’s so difficult to understand here? The problem was Milan mgmt, not only CDK growth. Actually new Milan mgmt has made many mistakes and they need to be addressed not covered up.

        Reijnders has done nothing all season long (can’t shoot, can’t assist, can’t pass, can’t play D) yet he’s there every single game as the faith is there. Same for Musah and Chukwueze so far.

        CDK has outplayed all of our signings this year, with the exception of Pulisic and Atalanta got him on the super cheap. They are going to sell him for a solid profit. Milan? We keep screwing around with people like Reijnders, Chukwueze and Musah.

        1. The problem, MEEZ, is that the lights at San Siro shine brighter than the ones in Bergamo and CDK isn’t mentally ready for a big club. In Milan we DID try him up front as an attacker and as a winger, albeit in a one striker system. And he looked like he was afraid of his own shadow out there.

          No team should change their system to accommodate one player and I don’t blame Pioli for not changing his. At Milan there’s always the pressure to win and CDK wasn’t ready for it. Of course he would excel at Atalanta, for the reasons above…

          “Reijnders has done nothing all season long (can’t shoot, can’t assist, can’t pass, can’t play D)”

          – Are you serious? So you mean to tell me that in all your tactical acumen Reijnders started all games but two, because he can’t do anything right? Would you understand/recognize his vertical game if you were staring at it? Doubtful, based on your comment…

          And you argue your points with such certainty as if it were Gospel….

          1. Reijnders is a joke this season. I don’t know about previous seasons.

            Compare him vs a few years ago when our midfield was: Kessie, Tonali and Bennacer. Same coach, better players. You look at the data, stats and numbers.

            Reijnders isn’t remotely comparable to ANY of those 3. He wouldn’t start back then. It’s sad. You can smooch his rear all you want, but his numbers so far don’t lie. Look at the number of misplaced passes, turnovers and failed assists.

            Remember Pioli wanted him initially at AM, but he couldn’t shoot or assist, so they moved him back to DM to help him direct the traffic and he’s still lame at that.

            I’d love to have a real DM next to Bennacer. Instead we have a limited pass merchant in Reijnders and our team struggles except when Leao or Theo do something incredible or Giroud gets a header. That’s not going to get us back to the top of Serie A. Neither will Reijnders performances.

            BTW, Using the “fame” excuse is weak because you could use that excuse for every purchase that fails. Yes, it does happen but it’s not a valid excuse. He was scouted and recruited BY MONCADA. Perhaps Moncada didn’t want to sign because of the high cost, but he was the one who scouted him. Put the blame where it really lies, in management. They screwed up on both ends of the transfer, end of story.

            If you want to win, you have to put the excuses aside and address the issues – even if they are difficult issues that hurt. It’s why you can’t bury the training/injury issues right now either. They need to be addressed one way or another.

          2. Completely disagree. That is a weak argument respectfully – the whole notion that he can’t take the pressure at a big club. I could understand that argument IF he was with us for 2-3 years and couldn’t hack it. BUT it was only ONE season. You could have said the SAME thing for Tonali after his first season – the kid can’t take the pressure at Milan. But we were patient and waited and it paid off. The same would likely have happened with CDK. The kid is YOUNG came from a weaker league and had to learn a new position and new tactics and culture. Sometimes players need TIME. A club that wants to build off YOUTH must be patient when some take longer to develop than others.

            The sale of CDK wasn’t about pressure or talent or cost. It was about Gerry wanting an excuse to get rid of Maldini and CDK was a perfect scapegoat. They claimed a failed transfer campaign was the reason when we all know it was because Maldini publicly criticized (which he should not have done – publicly that is) Gerry for not spending more after our UCL semi final defeat to Inter. Period. The rest is just smoke and mirrors.

            GL to CDK hope he does well and we learn a lesson in patience and use that $$ to buy another solid player

      2. if the option is Pioli or CDK who’s stay next season, i chose the 2nd, he wasn’t ready/ adaptation so slow/ Milan shirt is too heavy, all is manager job.
        only Maldini in his side and now he’s gone, worse, CDK is targeted to be “must flop” so they have enough reason to blame Maldini

    2. It amazes me how some people on here think everything is done for personal reasons. “so eager to erase everything Maldini related” is such a ludicrous assumption. Football decisions worth 10s of millions of Euros are not done out of spite.

  2. Is there any chance CDK back to ACM like Brahim Diaz go back to Real Madrid after 3 season at ACM ?

    CDK can be the proper replacement for Olivier Giroud, now.

    1. FFS. Broken Record here. He’s not playing as a no. 9. He’s playing a second striker in a 2-striker formation and with a tactical role that is best suited to him. We’re set up in a different way. I’m happy for him, but CDK just wasn’t what we needed. Let’s move on. It’s OK.

  3. He’s a different player, in this last 5 to 6 weeks.

    Whereas last year even for Atalanta he was a cumbersome, largely ineffective player who was being shut down with little difficulty, something has changed.

    I think ‘finding himself’ is the perfect way to describe it. He is finding the time to maximise his strengths and those strengths are really coming to the fore.

    This is the raw talent that we signed. Good luck to him. I think this is a situation where everyone wins.

  4. I think giving Atalanta an option to buy for that price was poor business – a mandatory buy option or a higher optional one would have made a lot more sense – in this case Atalanta can’t really lose but we end up not recouping the full fee for a player who’s definitely worth it.

    1. What do you mean full fee? After amortisation that is the fee Milan need to recoup in order not to book a lose. Should Atalanta sell him for high profit, we still get something out of re-sale clause. It’s around 10% I think but still something.

      Should Atalanta not exercise the option (highly unlikely), I think there will be plenty of suitors for him in the summer if he continues this way and Milan could sell for high profit.

    2. I read somewhere (apologies for not being able to properly cite) that his residual book value this summer is going to be 20m, so even at the lowest option to buy (22m) the club books a small profit. At 30m, we’ll make 8m. Remember that players are technically depreciating assets.

      Also, “The report adds an interesting bit of background: De Ketelaere could have ended up in LaLiga at Real Sociedad last summer as he was convinced that Spanish football could be better suited to his style of play.”

      This is interesting. Even CDK knows that the fit must be specific to him for him to perform. I still think that CDK will never be a top player in a top team, just a good player in a 4th place chasing team. The true test will come when he inevitably makes the move from Atalanta to a club like Newcastle, Tottenham or United.

  5. @sempremilan, for the love of God please replace your commenting platform. It is ridiculously buggy and not user friendly at all!

  6. In my opinion, CDK’s problem had nothing to do with Pioli’s tactics. People saying he can’t play as an attacking midfielder haven’t watched him at Atalanta. Yes he spends more time in the box than he did at Milan but he often starts combining with teammates in midfield. At Milan, he just wasn’t physically nor mentally ready. He needed encouragement and time to adapt, just like Adli, but Milan had Scudetto and CL goals and already had Diaz performing well, so patience wasn’t an option. Later on, we were fighting for top four so unnecessary risks were avoided.
    Again, if you watch Atalanta, CDK is still nowhere near being fully developed and had his share of struggles. Now, with patience and less pressure, he has improved physically, found form, and gained confidence.
    In hindsight, with Milan out of the Scudetto race, Diaz gone, and primavera players getting a chance, letting CDK go seems crazy but at the start of the season, the management had Scudetto aspirations, not player development aspirations.

    1. He was given more than enough playing time here. He was starting many games. He’s not suited for the way Milan plays nor our formation. And the pressure at Milan is far higher than Atalanta.

  7. CDK wasn’t ready for the bright lights of Milan nor did he fit into Pioli’s system. That’s It.

    I don’t understand why we are still trying to point a finger at anyone. I am glad he’s doing well. hope he continues his hot form and we cash out on him and recoup our money. Then we can invest into a “readier” talent.

    If we change coaches I don’t even know if we can recall him back. I think he would want to stay at Atalanta who would likely sell him on to PL where he may or may not struggle again. BUT we’d get a sell on clause.

  8. He was not meant for Milan, isn’t a big team player and wasn’t meant for our system at all. We have a completely different team and structure than Atalanta.

    We will get our nice sum of money and invest in a player that is more suited for our team.

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